Treatments for Lacerations without Stitches in Children

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First-aid for lacerations that do not need stitches

  • Calm and comfort your child by letting him know that you can help.
  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding.
  • Wash your hands well.
  • Wash the cut area well with soap and water, but do not scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area and let the water from the faucet run over the cut for several minutes. A dirty cut or scrape that is not well cleaned can cause scarring.
  • Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.
  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad if the area is on the hands or feet, or if it's likely to drain onto clothing. Change the dressing often.
  • Check the area each day and keep it clean and dry.
  • Avoid blowing on the laceration, as this can cause germs to grow.

When should I call my child's physician?

Your child's physician will determine specific treatment for lacerations that require more than minor treatment at home. In general, call your child's physician for lacerations that are:

  • bleeding heavily and do not stop after five to 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • deep or longer than an inch
  • located close to the eye
  • large cuts on the face
  • caused by a puncture wound or dirty or rusty object
  • embedded with debris such as dirt, stones, or gravel
  • ragged or have separated edges
  • caused by an animal or human bite
  • excessively painful
  • showing signs of infection such as increased warmth, redness, swelling or drainage

You should also call your child's physician if your child has not had a tetanus vaccination within the past five years, if you are unsure when your child's last tetanus shot was given, or if you are concerned about the wound and have questions.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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